Though few may be aware of it, fashion and art have always gone hand-in-hand. Paul Poiret, widely regarded as the designer who launched the modern fashion industry, was closely involved with the artist circles in Paris, having worked with Picasso and Matisse. Dada artists in the 1920s often used clothing in their artworks as an extension of their continuous subversion of what exactly constituted art. In the early 1990s, fashion was taken to an elevated status with the spectacular fashion shows of the likes of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, which has led to contemporary debate concerning where fashion ends and art begins.
Fast forward to 2017, and For Art’s Sake is asking the same questions. The designs of our sunglasses draw inspiration from everything: fashion, art, culture, geometry, nature, to name only a few of our muses. The tradition in fashion is to always be hurtling forward, onto the next great, exciting, innovative thing, by honouring history and building from it to create something totally new and avant-garde.
For Art’s Sake decided to continue this practice by reaching out to artist Jessica Kim for a creative collaboration. Taking inspiration from Alexander McQueen’s performance with Nick Knight for Show Studio, we decided on creating a body art piece that explored notions of interdisciplinary practice and cultural identity. Jessica works in an instinctive, impromptu manner, and the working process took on several transformations. You can almost see her artist’s mind whirring away and she applies paint on one part of the body, steps back to assess, and dives right back in, paint-drenched hands first, to modify something.
The piece was made even more poignant by the relationship between artist and subject, who is Jessica’s childhood friend, Vienna Kim. The most dramatic transformation occurred when Jessica seemed to do a complete 180 on her concept half way through the project, going from a more abstract and solemn crucifix composition of the body to a playful and cutesy get-up, faintly reminiscent of an exaggerated and humorous ‘동네 아줌마’ (dongne ajumma), a term that means ‘local middle aged woman’ in Korean. This process takes into account Jessica and Vienna’s intimate friendship—even if done subconsciously—as the artist hinted at her subject’s deep Christian faith, before moving on to explore Vienna’s bubbly and cutesy character and personal style. Of course, the nod to the dongne ajumma is rooted in their shared South Korean background.
Ultimately, the project ended up becoming a dramatic artistic reinterpretation of fashion—styling our TAHITI GOLD sunglasses with lathers of paint and swathes of fabric. We appropriated the medium of painting, using it to ‘dress up’ a model, and actively broke down the barrier between art and fashion. See the full project below.
Artist: Jessica Kim
Model: Vienna Kim
Photography by Sierra Pruitt.
With thanks to Shift Media for the video.